LONDON (Reuters) – Liverpool football club said campaigners had been let down again after the acquittal on Wednesday of two ex-policemen and a lawyer charged with perverting the course of justice following the 1989 Hillsborough Stadium disaster.
Ninety-six Liverpool supporters were crushed to death in an over-crowded and fenced-in enclosure at the stadium in Sheffield before an FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest.
The BBC reported that Judge William Davis ruled the men, accused of altering statements, had no case to answer because a non-statutory enquiry was not a “course of public justice” that could be perverted.
Retired former South Yorkshire Police chief superintendent Donald Denton, the force’s ex-detective chief inspector Alan Foster, and lawyer Peter Metcalf had denied the charges.
Liverpool issued a statement on the club website http://www.liverpoolfc.com noting the latest developments with ‘huge disappointment’.
“While it would not be our place, legally or otherwise, to comment on those proceedings as they pertain to individuals, it is incumbent on us to forcefully point out that the 96 victims, their families, survivors and all those who suffered as a result of the Hillsborough tragedy have continuously been failed in their pursuit for justice,” the club said.
“We salute all those who have campaigned for justice. They have been let down yet again.
“We have a situation in which 96 people were unlawfully killed and yet no individual or group has been deemed legally culpable for their deaths.”
The Premier League club emphasised that the behaviour of Liverpool fans was not a contributory factor in the disaster — “a truth for which the bereaved families had to fight for over a quarter of a century”.
Police at first blamed the disaster on drunken fans, an explanation always rejected by survivors, relatives of the victims and the wider Liverpool community who spent years fighting to find out what had happened.
Later inquests and an independent inquiry absolved the fans of any responsibility.
Former chief superintendent David Duckenfield, who was in charge of police operations at Hillsborough, was found not guilty of manslaughter in 2019.
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Clare Fallon)